Roller patrollers skate into Tel Aviv [video]

Police deploys civilian volunteers where patrol cars can’t reach.

February 15, 2010 02:00
2 minute read.
Roller patrolers keeping the peace in Tel Aviv.

police rollerblades 311. (photo credit: YouTube)


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Criminals of Tel Aviv beware: The Israel Police has deployed civilian volunteers on roller blades to root out criminals where patrol cars can’t reach.

Based on similar squads in major cities in Europe, the Civil Guard (Mishmar Ezrahi) roller-blade unit first strapped up and hit the streets on New Year’s Eve, as part of efforts to strengthen the police’s presence and public security in central Tel Aviv.

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The squad deploys members of Israel’s roller-blade club, known for their monthly, mass night rides through Tel Aviv. Out of nearly 300 club members, some 30 elite rollers were recruited by police to take part in a Civil Guard special operations training course.

After a year of training and with Civil Guard Authority approval, the squad was officially cleared to roll and patrol. Another 30 roller bladers are currently enrolled in a course and are to be deployed in Tel Aviv next month.

In a YouTube video released by the Israel Police on Saturday, the roller-blade squad can be seen zig-zagging through the streets of northern Tel Aviv, running slalom courses while an action movie soundtrack plays. In one scene, a shoe-less “mugger” snatches a woman’s purse at the boardwalk near Independence Park and is swiftly chased down by two cops on wheels, who then tackle the man on a grassy knoll with ease.

Shimi Zinir, the interim head of community policing in the central Tel Aviv precinct, was one of the brains behind the project, and said the wheeled volunteers have capabilities the average cop doesn’t.

“They have far greater agility and speed than police on foot or bicycle and they can reach places that other police can’t. Also, on skates they’re taller than your average patrol officer, so they’re impressive and they have a deterrent effect,” he said.

Zinir added that the roller-cops “can patrol dozens of kilometers in a single shift while retaining the nimbleness of a cop on foot. This would be impossible otherwise.”

Zinir said the inspiration for the program came from Paris, where police have deployed the Roller Brigade patrol since the 1998 Soccer World Cup.

For the most part, the dozens of roller-cops on the streets of the city of lights hand out traffic citations, but when duty calls, they and their blue-and-white in-line brethren in Tel Aviv can wheel into action and deploy to places even the most skilled foot patroller or squad car can’t reach.

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